Greenpeace and iFixit have paired up to help consumers purchase the greenest electronics. A new product guide from the team puts repairability at the forefront, ranking brands and gadgets by their ability to be fixed and kept instead of thrown away and replaced, adding to the global e-waste problem.
The report, released yesterday, shows that leaders like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft leave much to be desired in repairability, with few options for replacing broken parts.
“Of all the models assessed, we found a few best-in-class products, which demonstrate that designing for repairability is possible. On the other hand, a number of products from Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft are increasingly being designed in ways that make it difficult for users to fix, which shortens the lifespan of these devices and adds to growing stockpiles of e-waste,” said Gary Cook, IT Sector Analyst at Greenpeace USA.The brand that ranked highest was Fairphone, the organization that created the ethical smartphone: conflict-free, fair wages for workers, replaceable parts and recycling at the end of the phone's life. Other brands with good scores were Dell, HP and LG.
To prepare the guide, Greenpeace and iFixit reviewed 40 of the best selling smartphones, tablets and laptops launched between 2015 and 2017, consisting of 17 different tech brands. The rankings were based on iFixit's teardown scores of each device, which is based on how easy it is to take apart a gadget and replace and repair parts.
The ease of repair represents more than just saving money and a device's longevity. Keeping a device in working order and for longer means a smaller impact on the environment and a dent in the piles of e-waste that pose a serious human health problem.
“Electronics take a massive amount of energy, human effort, and natural resources to make,” said iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens. “And yet, manufacturers produce billions more of them every year--while consumers keep them for just a few years before tossing them away. E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. We should be able to make electronics a more sustainable part of our lives.”